- Champion and Skin Sale 7/22 - 7/25
- Red Post Collection: Tentative Heal / Exhaust Changes headed to PBE, context on Sorcerer Shoe's / Homeguard bug, Vladcole on "Why does it always seem like Riot is understaffed"
- Free Champion Rotation 2014 Season Week 27
- 7/21 PBE Update: In-Client Match History Updated, Lots of tentative balance changes!
7/21 Patch UpdataeThe official 4.12 patch notes have been updated to reflect a small hot fix that went out earlier today!
"One bugfix and some documentation for Relic Shield, since we added it in with 4.12 but forgot to throw it into the patch notes. Enjoy!
- BUGFIX : Fixed a bug where upgrading Sorcerer's Shoes with the Homeguard enchantment granted double magic penetration
- CHEAPSKATE :Relic Shield and its upgrades no longer work on Yorick ghouls and Zyra plants because giving your friends 5 gold isn't helping anyone"
Statikk Q&A SummaryStatikk riftwalked onto the boards earlier today for a Q&A session with our fellow summoners!
Statikk here. I'm a designer on the live gameplay & balance team, but in the past I've also handled reworks for Sivir, Kassadin and Evelynn . These days I'm focused mostly on the changes we make to the live game, so whether you’re wondering how champs are picked for modifications or you want to talk about recent changes we've made (or haven't made), feel free to ask here.
Final note: the Q&A won't go live until Monday, July 21 from 12:00 PM PST until 2:00 PM PST, but start asking your questions NOW and I'll answer as many as I can on Monday.
-Statikk'[ Note: Most of these responses are to fairly long, detailed questions. I will be linking to the original question in each question but not quoting them save for a short synopsis of the question: ]
Statikk also replied to a summoner asking about his thoughts on Kha'Zix, Hecarim, and why some popular champions ( such as Lee Sin or Lucian ) seem to avoid being nerfed:
"You have made a ton of comments, and I'll try my best to address them all.
Firstly, I actually think Kha'zix isn't far off from being balanced. In fact, we have seen him get spot-picked in Korean pro games even in his arguably currently "underpowered" state (I believe they are actually evolving E first).
The changes to Q and its evolution path were actually largely motivated by Game Health concerns with the Isolation mechanic. Essentially, Isolation is a mechanic that works super well later on in the game when you are more heavily grouping up since you have allies to play around, but early on in the game (especially pre-6) avoiding Isolation is not really an option for some roles (ex: the opposing jungler). We think it's appropriate that Kha'Zix has to invest in his Q to apply this kind of pressure to the enemy team that Isolation brings, and it's clear that at least some evolutions such as E are still competing with it.
I think Volty (Kha'Zix's original designer) kind of nailed it on the head when we released Kha'Zix. He claimed that Kha'Zix is a champion we have to normally re-visit in order to re-balance his evolutions to be competitive with one another, and I honestly agree with that. The game and our understanding of the game changes so much even on a daily basis. I suspect we'll have to revisit his evolutions in the future, but for now we want to monitor how the Q buffs in 4.12 have affected him.
Agreed 100% that we went overboard with the Q Mana cost tuning the last time we changed him. This is something we're looking to change with the next upcoming patch. His Q Mana cost will now be in the middle ground between where it was before and where it is now.
3) Balance "Favoritism"
I think it's a bit unfair to jump to conclusions about why we are hesitant to nerf X champion versus Y champion. Firstly, there's always going to be variance in the power of champions after we change them. Getting them right 100% out of the game is honestly unrealistic, as it takes time for everyone to understand how to optimize champions after we change them.
Lucian was a case where we were more concerned with ensuring that he was still functional post Attack Range changes. Yes, we went overboard on our first shot, but this is something that can be and will be corrected in the upcoming patches (everybody deserves a second shot amirite?).
Lee Sin is a different beast altogether. Firstly, we didn't go through with our first initial larger changelist months ago due to a legitimate concern that players brought to us which was that we were fundamentally altering his gameplay identity with our changes. This made us go rethink our approach to Lee Sin and instead of normalizing him into a champion we know fits the game, we are trying to fit his unique identity (early game gambit, late game falloff) into the game. This is something we will be pursuing fairly aggressively with Lee Sin.
In addition, we always have to assess what each champion brings to the game and how that can affect our analysis of the situation. Let's be honest, Lee Sin is one of the most fun and exciting champions in our game, it shouldn't be surprising to anyone why he is so popular. We'll continue to adjust his power as we always have (and if you don't think we've changed him a ton...go look at his patch history), but Lee Sin is a champion that as a design team we feel brings a lot of positives to the game."
Statikk also answered another set of questions regarding this thoughts on the state of Akali, Squishy Melee champions, Spell vamp, and the stealth system:
"1) State of Akali
Akali currently looks to be in a decent spot, and as I hear she is starting to gain more popularity recently especially in solo queue. I also think she will be benefiting from the changes we are making to the overall game to make it less anti-Assassin. As far as Game Health goes, I still believe she is a champion with a lot of flaws. When she gets ahead, there is usually very little individuals can do to overcome the situation due to her simplistic mechanics (tons of just "I click you and hope you die" abilities) and when she's behind she has very little power to come back since she doesn't have any strong "fallback" patterns and the her primary defensive ability (W) is still tied to our primitive and hard counter-y stealth system.
2) Squishy Melee
We are still exploring what it means to be a squishy melee in the game. Yasuo was obviously an experiment in this field. I see 2 possible positions for them:
1. Enemy backline (Assassin): I think everyone is familiar with this pattern. In my mind there are 2 inherent steps in this pattern - 1. The Infiltration to get to the right target and 2. The Execution when they arrive at the target to take them out. Assassins should be champions who rely on flanking and other creative ways of infiltrating towards the enemy's high-priority targets. I think a large part missing in a lot of our Assassins is an interesting Execution phase, where they still need to make a play once they reach the target to finish them (maybe Zed after the more recent changes meets the bar now).
2. Ally backline (Melee Carry): This is a term we've thrown around a ton but have never truly delivered upon. A lot of the supposed Melee Carries we've put into the game are honestly very Assassin-like in their pattern since we often give them the tool to access the enemy backline. The idea behind this character would be similar to that of a Ranged Carry mindset - start with whatever targets present themselves, usually the enemy frontline and eventually make their way through the team to clean up the enemy's backline.
Yasuo was a champion I believe had a lot of potential of fulfilling this role due to mechanics such as Wind Wall which keeps him safe from the enemy backline while he deals with the enemy frontline, but once again we ended up giving him a way to easily access the backling via his ult which I think really undermines this role's purpose and essentially turned him into an Assassin. To me it feels like a somewhat lost opportunity.
3) Spell Vamp
Spell Vamp is honestly another old system that we probably need to revisit and re-set the goals around its purpose in the game. I would say in its current state, Spell Vamp being any more prominent would probably just lead to abuse cases. One of the largest problems with Spell Vamp is how much it favors resourceless champions vs. Mana champions. This is something we'd have have to take a hard look at if we wanted to adjust it, but I don't think there are any immediate plans.
I don't just think it would be beneificial, I think it is integral to the health of all stealth champions that we figure out a better system for them to work under. The current binary / hard-counter system is one that provides little gameplay and disallows these champions to scale with player skill effectively. It's something I'm very personally interested in investigating but have never found the time to."
As for his PERSONAL list of the top 5 champions that need to be rework, he noted:
5. ??? - can't decide =/
Once again, my personal opinion. I think the above 4 have incomplete/confused identities/roles within the game and have flawed play patterns that offer very little counterplay."
When asked about the fate of "immobile Mid-Lane Mages" such as Brand, Malzahar, Galio, etc and if Riot has any plans to bring them up to par with today's common mid picks, Statikk replied:
"This is definitely an issue that we have struggled with a lot internally. We call this class of characters the "Immobile Mid-Lane Mages" and I 100% agree with your identification and breakdown of the problem.
I'm definitely on the same page with you when you say Mobility Creep is one of the largest contributors to this. As we've added more and more mobility to the champions in our game (for good reasons - mobile champions are really fun to play, create a lot of "outplay" moments, etc.), the Immobile Mid Mages have fallen off especially in the competitive scene.
The bottom line is that we have done a poor job of valuing Mobility as it relates to the amount of power it gives to a champion's kit. Champions with high mobility need to be paying a larger cost for having that strength, and this is obvious with examples like Kassadin, LeBlanc, or Lee Sin. Mobility is actually a tool that scales extremely well with player skill, pros are able to exploit both the strategic map mobility and tactical in-combat mobility to its fullest extent.
As far as itemization goes, I know the Systems team is looking into different the lesser used items such as Rylai's. The lack of Mana Regen in the Rylai's + Liandry's combo is interesting (I believe most stack a few Doran's Rings to try to get around this), but overall I think it might be pointing out a larger issue in our game which is our ever-growing pool of Resourceless champions and how we have maybe warped the game to allow Mana users to compete with the resourceless guys over time. A big example of this is how strong Athene's is at the moment. When you look at the item objectively, Athene's is pretty insane in terms of gold-efficiency, but this leads to a scenario where the only mages that are viable are the ones who can leverage Athene's effectively. This is something I'll definitely bring up to the other guys on the team to see if this is another avenue we can help attack the problem.
Overall, I don't think there's an easy fix to this problem. I think we'll have to do a lot of systematic changes to the game in order to get Immobile Mid Lane Mages back into the game in a healthy way, but it's something definitely on our radar (just not right at this moment since we are prepping for Worlds)."
Statikk continued, sharing this thoughts on the current 4.12 Lucian, Ezreal, and how Win Rates reflect balance:
"Firstly, I'll start with new Lucian. Flat out, he's just currently overtuned and that will be corrected soon. This means that Lucian's current state is not really a useful grounds of comparison when it comes to power level.
To address Ezreal, we honestly feel Ezreal is still fitting the vision we set for him. He's a long-range, mobile, poke ADC and he fits that pretty well. In fact, Ezreal is still being valued in the Korean competitive scene. I don't think it can be easily assumed that Ezreal is "weak" at the moment. He has things that Lucian doesn't have (long range) and Lucian has things that Ezreal doesn't have (hyper mobility). That's a great place to be in when they can be valued for different reasons. I think something to clarify is that Ezreal should probably not be the most mobile ADC in the game given that he has such high range. He can be mobile sure (and he is because of his E), but being the most mobile is probably not ideal given his other strengths. I think it's easy to forget, once a champion has not been dominant for a while, the times they actually were dominant and how small of a change it takes for us to revert back to those times.
Purely using Win Rates averaged over all skill levels is a dangerous way to approach game balance. In fact, I think this kind of mentality has heavily contributed to the Mobility Creep that continues to grow in our game. Some things simply scale extremely well with player skill level - it turns out that Mobility is one of these things. The fact that a lot of our more mobile champions do have "lower" win rates is not an accident or mistake. It takes a ton of mastery and skill to leverage Mobility to its maximum potential."
When asked about his thoughts on Garen, Statikk shared:
"The difficulty of a champion like Garen is that we see him as a great beginner champion. He's easy to pick up and easy to understand, so he does bring a lot of positive to the game even when he isn't necessarily a strong champion at the competitive level.
If we wanted to make him more healthy for competitive play we would have to start weighing the costs of adding complexity to his kit via new mechanics and probably adding more points of mastery in his gameplay which probably means making him overall more demanding to play.
One of the biggest things I've learned working on this game is that it is rare for any decision to be completely free of costs or tradeoffs. Almost every change we make that has a benefit also has a cost and we always have to weigh them against each other.
In Garen's case we would have to understand the costs we would have to pay in his simplicity in order to make him a healthier competitive champion. I can say right now, that there are no immediate plans for work on Garen, but you're definitely on the mark when you say that if we do go and change Garen we would need to try our best to preserve his low skill floor while still increasing skill ceiling (which is extremely difficult to do)."Statikk noted:
"In terms of balance, we think Quinn is actually pretty strong.
In terms of design, I think we all feel Quinn is somewhat of a missed opportunity.
Here's a list of things I think we are not exactly content with:
- She's a sub-par bot lane ADC
- She's overly reliant on snowballing / doesn't have a great fallback pattern
- Her ult specifically is great when she's ahead (potentially makes her feel overbearing when ahead due to the amount of burst it adds) and feels almost useless when behind or even
Overall, I think Quinn is a fun champion with a lot of potential, but we're simply not there yet."
Statikk also commented on the current stats of Taric, Zilean, and Alistar, saying:
Similar to Garen, I think Taric is at a place where we have to weigh simplicity vs. mastery. If we were to change Taric, I doubt we would put more emphasis on Auras as they are biggest examples of "Power without Gameplay." Stat-based Auras typically have to be fairly game-warping before they are noticeable and satisfying, which is why we usually avoid them. Overall, I think we need to find a more interesting core gameplay pattern than "stand near an enemy and press all your buttons" for Taric. I don't want to get your guys' hopes up, but we actually do have some experimental Taric changes that are pretty different from his current kit. No guarantees on if it will ever release or when, but he is someone who the Reworks team is looking at potentially changing.
Zilean's kit unfortunately has very little counterplay, and it's the large reason why it's hard for us to find a place for him in the game. Currently when he's powerful, he creates an extremely frustrating experience for the enemy laner. He is also one of the champions that is higher up on the Reworks priority list, but because we would have to change his kit so drastically to make him healthy for the game, it will definitely be a while until we can release changes.
The W+Q combo is something that we never intended to exist, but it's something that Alistar players have gotten used to and is honestly integral to his current balance and gameplay. If we were to revisit him in a Reworks style approach, I think there's a high likelihood that we would remove the combo and instead give him more ways to create situations where he can W enemies into walls to setup a follow-up Q. This is probably a healthier version of his combo, but it's not something we'd do unless we supplemented the kit with ways to function and succeed without the combo.
I agree the heal is also something that doesn't necessarily mesh well with his kit - both from a game health perspective and a thematic perspective. Functionally it is honestly just a bunch of sustain in lane (arguably not a "bunch" anymore now that we've tuned it down over time) and then falls off in usefulness once it gets to late game. It creates a fairly un-interactive lane pattern that is diametrically opposed to his all-in initiation combo style. It's something I think we'd have no qualms of removing if we found something better to replace it with.
Statikk also touched on Galio's place on the rework list, the "Renekton" bar , how the tank jungler changes from 4.11 are panning out, and which champions are considered "sleeper op":
"1) Galio is certainly high on the Reworks priority list but not on the immediate table. I find him personally interesting because I think his kit could make for an extremely fun and interesting Tank-Support kit (it was really awesome to to see CLG Chauster play him as Support the few times he did in LCS). As a mid champion, I think Galio presents a large issue since his Passive + W leads to stale hard-counter lanes that are fairly un-interactive.
2) We are actually pretty happy with the Top Lane Fighter diversity. You kind of pre-answered what I was going to say though which is the recent Lane-Swapping competitive meta and dominant caster-type picks like Lulu and Gragas have been overshadowing the typical Fighters and have made it a lot more difficult to understand clearly where the Bar currently is.
3) We have thought about making tweaks to the Ancient Golem item (specifically we're not sure if the Mana return is sufficient on the item), but overall Jungle Tanks seem to be doing well. Rammus specifically seems extremely powerful already. Shen I doubt we'd want to tune him around Jungling as his ult from the Jungle has a lot less gameplay than when he is in Top Lane (where his opponent can play against it).
4) I keep hearing Talon and Fiora, but then again I've been hearing this for a while =D. I think Xerath and Nidalee are on the rise in terms of the competitive scene."
As for this thoughts on Mobility creep and items like Atma's Impaler, he commented:
"1) I think I've addressed Mobility Creep in our game already, but yes I agree it's a huge issue. I think it begins with the realization and acceptance of how powerful mobility really is and to not be distracted by other things such as "win rates" when we try to objectively understand the power associated with Mobility (ex: Mobility scales extremely well with player skill and team coordination). Win rates are something that are easy to become overly attached to because they are so apparent and concrete, but in actuality they can often lead to false conclusions if interpreted incorrectly or without the right context.
2) We always want to make sure champions have interesting and exciting Itemization options, but in the case of Atma's specifically - I think Atma's is fundamentally an unhealthy item because it allows a champion to simultaneously scale offensively and defensively which often leads to egregious snowball cases. "Offense-to-Defense" conversions are a hard lesson we learned from the early days of Jax and Vlad, and unfortunately I think we would need to re-think items like Atma's if we wanted it to become a health option in the game."
When asked about spell vamp, Statikk noted :
"Unfortunately, I actually don't have a ton of insight into Spell Vamp and how it should function in our game (probably more appropriate for one of our Systems guys like Xypherous), but I will say that although a "Spell Vamp ratio" on each spell would make Spell Vamp healthier and more functional in our game, it would be an extremely inelegant solution. For example, how would players know whether they had good Spell Vamp ratios or not? We would probably have to display it in the tooltips somewhere and that has its own complexity and costs as well. I think you are getting at the heart of the problem though, which is that Spell Vamp is a lot weaker on champions who have to expend resources (Mana) to get returns out of it. Personally not sure what the answer would be here still."
Lastly Statikk touched on Wave Clear Creep, Initiation, and Warding / Vision control:
"1) Wave Clear Creep
Wave Clear Creep is certainly something that's been on our radar ever since the days of Mid Morgana and AP Sion. I think a lot of designers have tried to make steps towards making champions who have to interact with each other to succeed, but haven't necessarily carried through with the correct tuning to make it happen. For example, Xerath's Mana Passive was designed to force him nearer to the minions, but through Mana itemization like Athene's or the Blue Buff, Xerath can completely undermine this his Passive pattern and just wave clear at long range.
Agreed there is a lack of effective initiation in competitive games at the moment which leads to long, stalled-out games and only siege / poke team comps. There's a lot of factors that go into this though and I'll tally some of my thoughts below:
3) Warding / Vision Control
- Our old style tanks are built around AoE initiation, and pro players have evolved to have much better spacing in fights to avoid the "wombo combos."
- Mikael's is now a staple item on Supports which makes long CD initiation abilities much less effective, and thus as you identified the lower CD, repeatable pick abilities (Morgana Q, Elise Human E, etc.) are the only ones finding success in the game.
- We have reduced the prevalence of Assassins in the game both through Champion changes (Zed, Kha'Zix, etc.) and Systems changes (such as Heal) which has allowed long-range gameplay to become too dominant of a strategy.
This is another question where I don't have great insight into (something more appropriate for the Systems team), but I can understand how the new vision system has caused teams that are ahead to not be able secure vision control as easily. I don't think we want to go back to a world where the team that was ahead can easily black out the map and just suffocate the enemy team, but we may be too far in the other direction at this point.
Overall we feel the pace of the game is probably a bit too slow and drawn out at the moment, and I think the upcoming Champion and Systems changes in the next couple of patches will help shake that up a bit heading into Worlds."
New Experiment with instant bans on extreme toxicityLyte, Riot's Lead Social Systems Designer, tweeted out earlier today that they will be starting an aggressive experiment that punishes extremely toxic players with immediate 14 day or permanent bans.
"Today, players that show extreme toxicity (intentional feeding or racism, etc) will be instantly 14-day or permabanned in #LeagueOfLegends"He continued:
"If this #leagueoflegends initiative is effective, we'll be rolling it out more permanently. Every permaban case is reviewed."
Over on reddit, Lyte elaborated on the whole experiment and answered a few common questions, such as why they will publicly announce the filters, the concern of false positives, and more!
A quick clarification on some common questions I'm seeing:
Today is start of tests where we'll be using a new machine learning approach + Player Support manual reviews to target extreme cases of toxicity (such as intentional feeding, racism, death threats, homophobia, etc) and handing out pretty severe penalties such as 14-day or permanent bans. Players that get permanent bans will see a ban code of 2500 during these tests.
We'll be testing 1 server at a time in small doses to monitor the effectiveness of the system carefully and minimize false positives. All Riot regions will get the same test at some point in the future. Depending on the results of the tests, we'll be rolling this system out more permanently on all servers.
In the past, we've avoided publicly naming and shaming players; however, we've learned in recent months that being transparent is extremely critical to the playerbase's trust in our systems, so we've decided to do a compromise. If players complain about unfair bans for this particular system (so, have a ban year code of 2500),
we're going to be fully transparent and posting the chat logs that resulted in the ban.
Some players have also asked why we've taken such an aggressive stance when we've been focused on reform; well, the key here is that for most players, reform approaches are quite effective. But, for a number of players, reform attempts have been very unsuccessful which forces us to remove some of these players from League entirely.
In addition, we'll be talking about this effort in more detail and about another system that will be addressing Leavers/AFKs very severely in the future. We'll do these in the usual channels like the League forums. I just wanted to mention this briefly on Twitter today in case some players were confused why they see some players getting banned until 2500 year codes."
Ricklessabandon on recent PBE Changesricklessabandon also opened up his twitter for questions and comments concerning the recent PBE changes for Lissandra, Itemization, and Summoner Spells:
"looks like the pbe has been thoroughly mined for the day—feel free to send any lissandra, item, or summoner spell feedback my way! :3"
When asked about Lissandra's W's AP ratio being lowered in trade for her ult's slow going up and a lower CD on her Q, he noted:
"burst damage doesn't really fit into a healthy dmg profile for her, so we're trading some for things that do (sustained dps + cc)"He continued, noting the ratio decrease is also to help make DFG less ideal:
"her burst is already atypically high for her type of kit, and her sustained dps is buffed—it's getting nerfed to make dfg less ideal"He continued:
 "it's less about the dfg item specifically and more about the pattern behind it. when she uses dfg, she 100-0s in a very short window"
 "it's not a problem unique to lissandra, but it's one we don't want to make more common."
When asked if there were plans to change Lissandra's passive, ricklessabandon noted:
"we've talked about it. i had an idea i wanted to try out with these changes, but we didn't have enough time to try it"He also mentioned that Meddler had an idea for a new Lissandra passive:
"meddler also has an idea for her passive that he wants to try at some point. again, hard to find time for her right now"
As for the Deathfire Grasp changes ( CD up to 90 from 60 ) , he noted:
"in part, it was to go along with the exhaust and heal changes (as well as the magic resist nerfs to chalice/athene's)"
When asked about the changes to Rylai's Crystal Scepter ( HP down 100, AP up 100 ), he explained:
"goal is to make the item feel better and more slot-efficient for kite/utility mages, or mages with sustained dps patterns"
He also commented on the addition of a mana cost to Gragas's W ( which was alsao in the 7/21 PBE Update ):
"partly because he could just activate his passive on cooldown for free. actually, that's most of it—adding cost to his sustain"He continued, commenting on the comparison of Gragas's Regen to Garen's regen:
"he's a bit safer than garen, and has at least some ranged harass/cc, so we think it's okay for him to have some cost to regen"
As for the Gragas Q changes ( Q now doing 70% damage to minions ), he noted it was partially to force Gragas into melee to last hit:
"at some phases of laning, yes. he'll either need to use a second barrel, his body slam, or basic attacks until he gets some ap"
As for the fate of his experimental Muramana changes that we saw during the last PBE cycle, ricklessabandon commented:
"they'll come back—it was really busy this patch >_<"
Pwyff on 7/21 PBE Elise Changes7/21 PBE update, Elise had the ranges reduced on both there Human form Q ( Neurotoxin ) and her Spider form E ( Rappel ). In addition to these reductions, the spells where also changed to now target from hit box to hit box instead of center to center.
Here's Pwyff with an explanation:
"Quick thing on the Elise changes: they've also been modified to judge distance from edge of hitbox to edge. The TLDR is that some abilities judge distance from the center of the champion (like dead center) and then draw a straight line to the dead center of their target. That's center-to-center distance.
Hitbox to hitbox takes into account champion size (average is like... 65 units? 60 units?) as it goes right from the edge of the champ hitbox. Basic attack ranges us edge to edge distance.
So while these range changes seem significant for Elise (they're still significant, don't me wrong), there's accounting for roughly ~100 units that are being added onto this as a result of shifting from center-to-center to edge-to-edge. If it's a Cho'gath it's sort of a weird buff (at least for Q)."
He also noted that ranges are moe like -50 Range ( instead of the listed 125 ) for Neurotoxin and -100 for Rappel ( instead of 225 )
"Pulled some numbers on the Elise changes, going from center-to-center to edge-to-edge hitboxes is roughly +75 range. So the range changes could be considered roughly a 50 range reduction on Q and a 100 range reduction on Rappel"